Can y’all believe engagement season is just about here? We know proposals happen year around – and goodness knows we love them ALL – but there’s something even more special about this time of year. While engagement season is technically from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, we’re kicking off this post a little early because aside from telling your friends and family and soaking in the fact that you’re finally engaged, the venue hunt is one of the first major decisions you’ll be making while wedding planning.
There are hundreds of wedding venues in Texas – seriously, hundreds – and thousands nationwide. Add in the prospect of choosing a nontraditional venue and elopements, and suddenly it can feel like your options are limitless. When there are so many options, it can be super overwhelming and hard to decide which one is the right one for you and your big day. And, it can be even harder to figure out where to start.
While there are a myriad of little decisions that come into choosing your wedding venue and ultimately the reasons why you choose a venue are different for everyone, there are four major factors to consider when narrowing down your list of venues and deciding where to tour. We hope you’ll fall in love with The Chandelier (here’s a list of the Top 7 Reasons our couples have chosen to get married with us in case you’re curious), but before you can fall in love you have to figure out if we’re the right fit for you.
So, where do you even begin?
When considering location, there are a couple of different factors to keep in mind. First and foremost is whether you want to get married in the town you live in (or an adjacent town that is close enough to not require overnight stays) or if you’re either open to getting married somewhere else or wanting to get married somewhere else. If you know the town you want to get married in, you’re already off to a great start narrowing down venues and you can search for all of the venues within a certain radius. If you’re open to other options (and not already from our area!) we personally love Gruene because it’s close to major airports, has a multitude of housing options for out of town guests, and has plenty of activities for people to do while they’re in town to celebrate your wedding.
The second aspect to location is about the venue itself. Is it close to highways, airports, or other potentially disturbing places? Is it secluded? Is it so secluded that it’s hard to find? Do you like the grounds as a whole? Is lodging close by? Is it easy to access? Is there good parking on-site for your guests?
The final aspect of location we want to touch on is the type of location. We’re a hill country wedding venue, and we have a super soft spot in our hearts for hill country weddings so we wouldn’t want it any other way. But if you want to get married in a big city, on a beach, or surrounded by the mountains, we will never be that. You can find the most beautiful venues in the world that are a perfect match in every other way, but if they’re not in the type of location you’re looking for, it may not be the right fit.
Really think about your anticipated guest count when you’re choosing where you want to have your wedding. If you want a big party with 300 of your closest friends but fall in love with a venue that only holds 200, you’re going to have to make some really tough decisions. Similarly, if you’re planning an intimate wedding, you may not want a huge wide open space. We thought this out thoroughly when planning our venue and have solutions for how to make the space work whether you have 50 people or 500 people, but not all venues have that ability. You don’t have to have an exact guest count when you start hunting for venues, but you should have at least a rough estimate. We also recommend considering a venue that may hold more people than you’re anticipating, which gives you wiggle room for more spaced out tables, a bigger dance floor, or adding things like photo booth stations, lounges, or other interactive experiences.
The venue you choose will be a huge guiding factor in the overall feel of your wedding. While it is completely possible to customize the venue to make it true to you, it will be 10 times easier if you’re starting with a space that you already love. When going through a wedding venue, think about not only what you want your day to look like, but also what you want the experience to be like. It’s easy to bring in floral and decor to elevate a space and bring your theme to life, but you ideally want to be enhancing what the venue already has, not trying to change it all together.
The other aspect of this is just if you feel like you can see yourself getting married there. Sometimes there are venues that tick all of the boxes, but when you’re there it just doesn’t feel right for whatever reason. This is purely gut instinct and you have to follow your heart on it, but it’s worth it to put in the time to choose a venue that feels right. After all, it will be in every single one of your wedding photos, and you’ll be looking at those beauties for years to come.
Of all of the factors, this one is probably the least talked about, but in our opinion one of the most important. Do not give up on your wedding dreams when looking for your wedding venue. There are a lot of wants that couples walk into the venue search looking for – whether it’s having an outdoor ceremony space, a dedicated cocktail space, room for multiple bars, a sound system, space to get ready on-site, being able to bring in caterers, etc. etc. – and a lot of times most but not all of the wants will be met by a certain venue. That’s okay. But if you have absolute musts? Try your very hardest to not compromise on those because you don’t want to regret your decision. For example, say you want a beachy wedding. You can bring in tropical florals and embrace a beach vibe, but if walking down the aisle barefoot in the sand or hearing the ocean waves in the background is a must, then you’re probably not going to want to choose a venue that isn’t on the actual beach. Similarly, if you don’t want to have a backup ceremony plan, don’t choose a venue where the primary ceremony site is out in the open air. We don’t know what your musts are and no one knows better than you if it’s a “want” or a “must,” but if you’ve always dreamed of getting married in a chapel or having a location with the ceremony and reception space in the same place, find a venue that lets you have that dream.